On Saturday, a 2-6 (0-4 SEC) Missouri team on the brink of being eliminated from bowl eligibility will travel to Williams-Brice Stadium to take on a 4-4 (2-4 SEC) South Carolina team that will attempt to ride the momentum of its upset win over Tennessee straight to bowl season.
The Gamecocks notched a signature win for their first year head coach Will Muschamp in week nine. In a game that most thought would get ugly in favor of the Vols, South Carolina managed to win the totals in rushing yards, passing yards, time of possession and takeaways. With two very difficult games remaining against opponents currently ranked in the top 10 — Florida and Clemson — a win this week against Missouri is likely the Gamecocks’ only chance at getting to six wins and a bowl appearance.
From champions of the SEC East two years ago, to currently being the cellar dwellers in the division, Missouri has witnessed a massive fall in the SEC food chain.
The fall of the Tigers can be attributed to multiple issues. First and foremost, it’s never easy to lose a consistent winner at head coach like Gary Pinkel. Head coaching changes nearly always result in a large step back. Despite a rough season, though, Missouri hasn’t been totally eliminated from playing in a bowl with its six losses. Games against Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Arkansas follow this week’s matchup, and if the Tigers want to be bowl eligible, then they must win out. That, obviously, makes this game an important one.
It will be fun to see two young quarterbacks face off in this matchup. After weak offensive production all season, the Gamecocks finally seem to be getting things going with 17-year-old Jake Bentley under center.
Despite his age, Bentley has yet to show it on the field. In his two starts, he has completed 70 percent of his passes for 367 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. For Missouri, Drew Lock continues to be the greatest asset for the Tigers. Look for him to keep the pedal to the metal and for Missouri to try and outscore South Carolina.
Filled with confidence after a huge SEC upset, the Gamecocks will be rolling almost as much as Williams-Brice Stadium will be rocking. Jake Bentley will connect with his favorite target — Deebo Samuel — for a 100-yard game and stay perfect in his young college career with both zero losses and zero interceptions.
The South Carolina defense will be tested all night by the arm of Drew Lock, who will throw for more than 300 yards and three scores. But, in the end defense, will be the downfall for the Tigers yet again.
Edited by Adam Milliken
Featured image by Marvin Preston, courtesy of creativecommons.org